And now, two days later, a football player from my University has been pronounced dead. The cause of death is still unknown, but drug overdose is suspected. Austin Box, OU's senior linebacker was only 22 years old.
149 comments were made on this news article about the Flower Mound heroin crime. Probably more by the time you get around to reading it. People have very strong opinions, and are quick to post them when they are behind the computer screen, using an anonymous name.
After reading through most of these comments, I decided it would be most appropriate to gather my thoughts and post them here. My goal isn't to engage in an argument; my intention, rather, is to pass love and prayer along to those impacted by the recent news.
There were 3 deaths in the town of Flower Mound from heroin overdose in the past year, and I imagine at this time, the parents of those teens are wishing they could trade places with the families of the teens going to prison. The statistics of heroin users are daunting-only 1 in 5 ever break free of the addiction. I imagine parents of teens who have died from overdose wish their loved one was alive to have the staggering 20% chance of bouncing back, even if prison time was required.
If you are interested in a sociological perspective on WHY people even begin down this path, you might find THIS LINK on the Anomie Theory interesting.
With the back-to-back news in both my hometown and college town, a few questions have come to the forefront of my mind.
1) Heroin is not a recreational drug that people dabble in for experimentation or curiosity. Specifically, the 17 indicted in Flower Mound, were not "curious" teenagers or "sporadic users"-- they were addicts. The medical point of view makes me question the ethics involved with releasing photos, names, and information about these individuals. In my opinion, they should be treated as PATIENTS, with HIPPA protecting their medical privacy. It is not my concern what these people look like, or who they are. My concern is that they are no longer able to supply heroin to others, and that they get the help they need from a trained MEDICAL staff that has their BEST interests at heart. This is not a legal issue-it is a medical issue-and I think it should be treated as such. Prison is not the place for them-rehab is. Prison has video games, and a lot of ample time where people sit around. Boredom leads most people to drug use anyway. These patients need schedules set each day filled with activities, therapy, and care. There should not be ample time for them to sit and crave their drug; the physical dependence heroin causes will cause cravings without any help from boredom.
2) Why are people so righteous about their children NOT using drugs? When I read through those posts, I thought to myself, "Those parents might be surprised what their kids actually do...and will never tell you, based on your harsh judgments." If my parents ever told me that drug addicts were "better off in hell," and I became a drug addict, they would be the LAST person I would turn to for help. And the reality of the situation, which is very evident with the location of this organized activity, is DRUG ABUSE DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. There was only one African American (not like it should matter, but it should bring awareness) involved. These were young, white, upper-middle class, young adults, LIVING in Flower Mound, Grapevine, Highland Village, and Lewisville. These kids, I'm sure, were raised similarly to the way I was raised. It's evident that drug abuse can set in where the means are made available. One would think that a successful University of Oklahoma linebacker wouldn't be drawn to any other high--but there is something there that entices certain individuals, and medical treatment is necessary, not judgment.
3) At the end of the day, personal convictions and outward judgments do not bring the dead back to life, nor do they end addiction and the physical withdrawals one goes through. They benefit NOBODY other than the person feeling superior, passing the judgments. Unfortunately, many people passing judgments use religion as a means to do so. I stand firm in my belief that any religion is based in love and peace, and the principles of religion should not be used for ego-advancement. I believe Jesus would want to help every drug-addicted individual find joy and peace in life, not make the addict feel worse with judgments. In fact, Jesus passed the message of non-judgment and love. Nothing else matters. Quite literally, and not-so-bible-thumpingly- I declare, THANK YOU, JESUS!
4) During my clinical rotation at Griffin Memorial (a state-funded psychiatric ward in Oklahoma), I spent ample time with drug addicts. This is where many drug addicts end up when they cannot afford expensive rehabilitation. Needless to say, one can go mad being surrounded by patients with severe schizophrenia, bipolar, and borderline personality disorder, when the drug addict is a healthy individual otherwise. I'd like to mention, for the judgmental alcohol-drinking individuals out there, ALCOHOL is a drug, too. In fact, alcohol withdrawals can be lethal. When one has to drink to curb deadly withdrawal symptoms, or inject heroin...it takes any "fun seeking" behavior completely out of the equation. They are self-medicating. Why is it that our country is so quick to judge those that self-medicate, but not those that are taking prescription pills? Heroin is a derivative of morphine. It used to be given in prescription form, here in the states. The issue, whether it is alcohol, heroin, prescription pills or any other substance you want, is when it becomes an addiction. When one has to take the substance to feel normal...they are depriving themselves of the joy life has to offer, and slowly become numb to the beautiful world around them.
To the Flower Mound residents that have been indicted--I don't know you. But I'm praying for you.
I am praying that people lay off, because I can imagine your stress and pressure is high enough without anybody else putting more on your shoulders.
I am praying for comfort while you withdrawal.
I am praying for peace for your families.
I am praying for inner motivation to not become a statistic. That you can quit using, and be successful in your future endeavors.
I am praying that you find joy and serenity in the simple things of life.
I am very grateful that I have not witnessed the effects of drug abuse first-hand, or with any immediate family or friends. However, I do not think that any of us are exempt, or special. I think we are lucky. And for that, I am grateful.